We’ve been reading Chapter Book Series for 8 to 12 Year Olds and we’ve found a lot of good ones!
We have a new obsession here. Esme discovered Chapter Book Series and our lives are not quite the same anymore. If I’m not begging her to please put down her book and eat her breakfast or go brush her teeth, she is begging me to please order/check out book # 3 in whatever series she has currently turned her life over to.
The month of January was devoted to all things Percy Jackson. I thought we might take a break after that, but she’s diving into The Secret Series now and already planning to move on to The 39 Clues when she finishes. I can’t really blame her at all because I have my own series obsessions – The Little House on the Prairie books will forever hold a place in my personal hall of fame.
2017 Update: Since I wrote this post a few years ago, the kids have grown and now I have three little readers buzzing through favorite book series. We still stand by all the fantastic books listed here, but you can also check out our latest Chapter Book Series recommendations here.
The 13th Reality | James Dashner This children’s fantasy series (4 books with a 5th on the way) follows the adventurous journey of Atticus Higginbottom after he receives a mysterious letter threatening the very destruction of reality. He sets off in search of more clues and finds himself journeying through alternate worlds and realities.
The 39 Clues | Rick Riordan This 11 book adventure series will keep your kids busy for a little while! Dan and Amy, two orphaned siblings, are on a quest to collect the 39 clues that will allow them to create the most powerful person on Earth. In the process, the uncover some clues about their own family history.
Artemis Fowl | Eoin Colfer This Irish Science Fiction Fantasy series (8 books) is a lot of fun – I haven’t finished the series yet, but I love it so far! Artemis, a genius criminal mastermind, is sometimes capturing fairies and holding them ransom, while other times he is joining forces with the fairy people. It’s an adventures, sometimes comedic, combination of folklore and fantasy.
The Borrowers | Mary Norton I loved these magical books when I was a kid, and I still love them as I read them again with my own children. These imaginative books tell the story of little people who live underneath the floors and in the walls of “human bean” houses. They “borrow” what they need to survive. The fantasy series of 5 novels takes the Clock family on adventures afield, aloft, afloat, until they are finally avenged.
Chronicles of Narnia | C.S. Lewis As an adult I don’t really like this series, but I sure loved it as a kid. These 7 fantasy novels are considered classics of children’s literature – must reads if you will. They are set in the magical world of Narnia where mythical beasts, talking animals, and a few ordinary children play out battles of good versus evil.
Dear America This collection of historical novels has more than 30 books in the series by a variety of authors. They all chronicle the stories of fictional girls who lived in America at different points in history. They are written in a diary format and although they are quite educational, they are also really fun to read.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid | Jeff Kinney These diary style satirical fiction books (6 so far) are about a boy, but they aren’t just for boys. With funny illustrations and realistic portrayals of what it’s like to be a kid in middle school, these books are hilarious. (I absolutely adore the movies too – though I haven’t let my kids watch them yet).
Fablehaven | Brandon Mull This 5 book fantasy series is about Fablehaven, a secret nature preserve for mythical beings. When two siblings discover the hidden world of magic, they are swept into a dangerous and exciting adventure.
Fudge | Judy Blume This 6 book series had Esme laughing out loud every time she picked up one of the books. I loved these books when I was kid and still remember all of the comedic antics of the Hatcher family boys and their friends. These books hold a special place in my own childhood memories, and I hope they stick with my kids in a similar way.
Harry Potter | J.K. Rowling These books hardly need any introduction and they are almost required childhood reading. I love them, I’m sure my kids will love them. So far, Esme has read the first three but I won’t let her read on just yet . . . a little too intense for a 7 year old, I think. But she’s begging – she’s wearing me down. Soon . . .
How to Train Your Dragon | Cressida Cowell These 12 British children’s books, set in a fictional Viking world, tell the story of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock and his tribe who train dragons as pets. These books are funny and heroic, though I sometimes cringe at some of the gross “boy humor.”
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place | Mary Rosewood These 4 satirical tales of a 19th century English governess are lovely – reminiscent of Jane Eyre. Poor Miss Penelope Lumley is put in charge of three unruly children, but there is mystery, intrigue, and wry humor to keep the story going.
Little House on the Prairie | Laura Ingalls Wilder I love these 9 historical fiction books, with all my heart. I consider them required reading for kids and adults alike. What could be better than reliving the pioneer and frontier days of the 19th and early 20th century.
My Side of the Mountain | Jean Craighead George This 5 book series begins with 12 year old Sam Gribley who runs away from his New York City apartment to live in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains on his own. It’s a story of survival and ingenuity, of nature and civilization.
The Mysterious Benedict Society | Trenton Lee Stewart This 4 book mystery series is appealing to both kids and adults. The story begins when a peculiar advertisement appears in the newspaper for children to take part in a secret mission. Just four children succeed: Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance. They have three things in common: they are all honest, all remarkably talented, and all orphans. They must go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened where the only rule is that there are no rules.
OZ | Frank L. Baum No children’s book series list is complete without the Land of Oz. These 14 fiction books, though nothing like the famous movie, are magic and adventure at their best.
The Penderwicks | Jean Birdsall This 5 book series tells the story of the Penderwick family, Martin Penderwick and his four daughters. They are sweet, simple, nostalgic books that remind me of E. Nesbit. They are beautifully written in a way that both kids and adults can appreciate.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians | Rick Riordan Esme gives these 5 adventure books based on Greek Mythology two enthusiastic thumbs up! Greek gods and their demi-god children are the new superheroes.
The Royal Diaries This historical fiction series of 20 books chronicles the lives of 20 royal women from around the world. Some of the books focus on well known historical figures, like Mary Queen of Scots, while others highlight lesser known figures like Weetamoo of the Pocassets. Educational, but fascinating and fun.
The Secret Series | Pseudonymous Bosch This wonderful 5 book adventure series is really, really fun. These are quirky detective novels with a very mysterious narrator.
A Series of Unfortunate Events | Lemony Snicket These 13 gothic fiction books follow the lives of the orphaned siblings Klaus, Violet, and Sunny Baudelaire. There is mystery and adventure and a lot of unfortunate things happen. I think kids can appreciate books without happy endings like these. I am a huge fan of these books! I think they are the sort of book that you enjoy as a kid and grow to understand as an adult.
The Sister’s Grimm | Michael Buckley These 9 fantasy novels tell the story of two orphaned sisters who become fairy tale detectives. These fast paced books will appeal to children because they will recognize all of their favorite childhood fairytale characters and see them in an adventurous new light.
The Spiderwick Chronicles | Tony Di’Terlizzi and Holly Black These 8 short fantasy books chronicle the story of the Grace children who move into the Spiderwick Estate and discover a magical world of Faeries.
Wayside School | Louis Sachar This comedic trilogy is the kind of wacky, silly humor that kids love. My siblings and I adored these funny books when we were kids and my girls are giggling their way through them now too.
The Wildwood Chronicles | Colin and Ellis Meloy This epic fantasy series (3 books) reminds of The Chronicles of Narnia, though I enjoyed these books even more. These books are set in a magical forest and the beautiful illustrations alone will keep you turning the pages.
Any other chapter book series that you would recommend?